Seven Resolutions for Colorado Politicians in 2017

Where all the governmenting happens.
Where all the governmenting happens. Timothy Vollmer at Flickr
The national elections of 2016 taught us two very stark lessons: People will vote against their own interests and their own espoused values if they feel desperate enough, and politicians are the most reviled people in the country.

We all make resolutions every year, and politicians both local and national clearly need to take a long and hard look at who they are and what they stand for — and what positive steps they can take in either party to improve the nation as a whole and Colorado specifically. Here are seven to start with:

7. We will stay true to the tenets of American government.
Colorado’s senators and representatives on the national stage could and should lead by example; our state legislators — as well as not only all of this state's elected officials, as well as Colorado voters — should demand that they do so.

6. We will effectively address homelessness.
It’s nice that Denver has, at this point, sworn not to take away blankets from the homeless in the winter; you’d think that nicety would go without saying. But now’s the time to do more than stop the sweeps; it’s time to actually do something about the issue itself. There are lots of options: One is being piloted (or at least proposed) in RiNo, where yurts will be raised and maintained, complete with chemical toilets on site. St. Andrews, in Five Points, is considering a similar idea, only with a tiny-house concept it's borrowed from Seattle. These aren’t the only solutions possible, but they’re actual options, as opposed to what we’ve settled for previously: good intentions and very little progress.

5. We will protect pot.
Colorado has been a national leader in the movement to decriminalize and/or legalize marijuana and its usage, and given some statements by the new administration, that could be at risk. No matter what the national response (and their own personal preference), Colorado's politicians need to devote themselves to defending the wishes and the vote of Colorado's citizens regarding pot. That's not just the right thing to do; it’s also important to keep working toward the goal of effectively utilizing the significant tax dollars that the pot industry has begun to create. And speaking of how to spend those monies…

4. We will champion education.
Part of the promise of marijuana tax dollars was that some of the money was going to go toward education — and for the love of Welcome Back Kotter, Colorado needs it. In 2016, our state earned only a C- grade for K-12 education (that’s a 71.81 percent) from the Quality Counts report card for all fifty states, and ranked 49th (beating only New Hampshire). Our legislators have to work to turn that around both nationally and at the state level — and not by just approving more charter schools that can work outside the system. With our revenues, we should be able to lead the education charge just as much as we have with marijuana.

Keep reading for three more resolutions.

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Teague Bohlen is a writer, novelist and professor at the University of Colorado Denver. His first novel, The Pull of the Earth, won the Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction in 2007; his textbook The Snarktastic Guide to College Success came out in 2014. His new collection of flash fiction, Flatland, is available now.
Contact: Teague Bohlen